It's Wednesday, and you know what that means, it's time to make some Week 3 college football picks.
Last week was an admittedly up-and-down week for the picks. We completely whiffed on Ohio State being favored by two touchdowns (shame on me) but also looked good in a few areas, most notably riding the A&M-Colorado under to an easy win. We also got completely screwed on the Arkansas-Texas under, when Texas essentially stopped playing defense in the fourth quarter.
Still, we're ready to roll into an actually really fun Week 3 slate.
As always, odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Now, let's get to the picks:
No. 8 Cincinnati at Indiana (UNDER 49.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
So I actually like Cincinnati in this game, but after getting burned last week by Utah at BYU, I have solemnly sworn off ever betting road favorites again (except Alabama - they're the exception to every college football betting rule). Much like your uncle swearing off cigarettes every year on lent, I'll probably go back on my word at some point. But right now, I have to stay strong.
Because of it, I'll roll with the under - which to me is the smarter play.
First off, these are two truly solid defenses. Both rank in the Top 30 nationally, and Cincinnati is giving up just 3.74 yards per play, which is ninth in the country. I know they've only played Miami (OH) and Murray State at this point, but we basically have a four-year track record at this point, that Luke Fickell will have his team ready to go.
The other reason I like the under here? With no disrespect intended, I don't trust Indiana's offense right now.
Admittedly, I'm the guy who bet against Indiana like five weeks in a row last year and lost every time, but 2021 feels like a different deal. Michael Penix is a stud, but also coming off surgery and through two games, the Hoosiers rank just 116th in total offense this year. Some of that may be because they played Iowa Week 1, but even last week, they had two special teams touchdowns to make their game against Idaho a bit more of a blowout than it appeared on paper.
I think the Bearcats are for real, and they prove here. But in a hostile environment in Bloomington where it will be unseasonably warm (mid[80's with high humidity) I'll stick with the UNDER.
Minnesota at Colorado (-2.5): Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
To be clear, this isn't an overreaction to Colorado nearly upsetting Texas A&M last week - I've been a Buff believer dating back to last year. I remember them opening the Pac-12 season against UCLA, waiting to see if Chip Kelly had finally figured things out... then seeing Karl Dorrell's boys run all over them.
I've been riding the wave ever since then (unrelated, I'm happy that UCLA is relevant again too).
So again, this isn't an overreaction, but I just like this team. They are young at quarterback, but run the ball effectively (they averaged over 200 yards per game last year) and have gotten after it so far on defense. I know part of Texas A&M's struggles last week essentially boiled down to the Aggies playing a backup quarterback. But some credit should go to CU as well.
Then there's Minnesota, and let me just say this: I'm a PJ Fleck believer. I worship at the altar of "Row the Boat." But in a sad twist, this offense just hasn't been the same since Mo Ibrahim went down in Week 1 against Ohio State. The Gophers couldn't muster much post-injury against Ohio State, and were actually outgained last week in a near loss to Miami of Ohio.
Colorado is the better team, at home and giving less than a field goal. Sign me up.
No. 1 Alabama (-7.5 - first half) at No. 11 Florida (OVER 59.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Yes, Bryce Young is making his first career road start. And normally that'd be a concern for me. But normal rules don't apply to Alabama. They just don't.
If anything, I'm going to say something that will sound preposterous: Alabama has been great for a decade now, we know that. But I think they've actually been a little bit underrated during this era of offensive revolution under Nick Saban.
Want a crazy stat? Too bad I'm going to give it to you anyway: Alabama has scored at least 31 points in their last 26 games, which includes every game of the 2019 season, every game of last season and the first two games of 2021. That means the last time they went under 31 points was in the national title game - against Trevor Lawrence and Clemson, back in the 2018 season. That was Trevor Lawrence's freshman year. He is now in the NFL.
To which I say: WHAT?!?! You know how many good teams Alabama has since that game? LSU twice (including in their national title season), Texas A&M, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Florida, on and on. And they've topped 31 points in each of those games. Oh, and on top of scoring 31+ points in all of those games, they've topped the 40+ point mark in 21 of those 26 games. Again, just absurd.
I bring this all up to say that I feel like Bama is due for a minimum of 35-40 points, meaning all we need from Florida here is 15-20. I know they're currently flip flopping quarterbacks (even though we all know Anthony Richardson will eventually win the job) but that doesn't seem like much to ask, especially since the backdoor will be open late.
The backdoor is also why I'm a bit afraid to bet the point total, but do love the first half line of Alabama (-7.5).
No. 22 Auburn at No. 10 Penn State (UNDER 53): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
So I'll say this for Auburn: We admittedly know absolutely nothing about them and they've played absolutely nobody.
But to their credit, they've looked about as good as you can in steamrolling Akron 62-10 and Alabama State 60-0. In the process, the defense hasn't given up a point before the fourth quarter and Bo Nix isn't doing crazy Bo Nix things. I know it's easy to say "it's just Akron and Alabama State" and I get it. Then again, as Washington, Florida State, whoever, how easy it is to take care of business as a heavy favorite. Even when you win, it isn't always pretty.
Either way, we're going to learn a lot about Auburn this week, but the one thing I can't get over is this stat: They're giving up less than one yard per rush, per game. I don't care who the competition is, that's absurd.
Then there's Penn State, and I'll say this: I really do like this team, even as James Franklin ducks questions about the USC job like Floyd Mayweather in his heyday. Seriously, this is the most non-denial, denial I've ever seen.
Still, with respect to Penn State - who I like a lot - I'm still not sold on this offense. Yes, they beat Wisconsin a few weeks ago. But that was also a game where Penn State had just 250 yards of offense. And nearly 150 of it came on three big plays. Had it not been for two Wisconsin miscues in the red zone where they came away with zero points, the Nittany Lions would have lost this game.
This is all a long-winded way of me saying that this game feels like a classic slugfest, and a game that goes well under the total of 53.
No. 19 Arizona State at BYU (UNDER 51.5): Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Don't laugh, but to me this might be one of the two or three most interesting games of the weekend.
On the one hand, you have Arizona State, a school which - prior to *allegedly* bringing recruits on campus during Covid, which *allegedly* has the NCAA really mad - was a team with a lot of "preseason Pac-12 favorite buzz." On the other, you have a BYU team that is 2-0 with two wins over the Pac-12, but two games that they could've easily lost, despite the final scores in both. In their opener against Arizona, BYU was outgained by the Wildcats. Last week against Utah, they gave up nearly eight yards per rush to the Utes, but took advantage of two turnovers in the win.
So what gives here? Well, I really don't love the point spread - again, to quote Nick Saban, road favorites are like "rat poison" (Ok, he didn't say it, but you get the point). Two, what do we know about either team, with Arizona State playing nobody (Northern Arizona and UNLV) and BYU winning two games, but non-convicingly?
We don't know much, but I do feel confident it stays pretty low-scoring.
One thing that Arizona State has always done since Herm Edwards got to town is play defense, and that is again the case here, as they currently rank No. 5 nationally in total defense. Yes, they've "only" played Northern Arizona and UNLV, but when you're giving up less than 200 yards a game, that's impressive against anyone.
Beyond remember what I said last week about Jim Harbaugh and Michigan heading into the Washington game? How Harbaugh has that "NFL DNA" in him, and every time he gets into a big game, he wants to keep things close to the vest, play tight and keep it low-scoring? Well Edwards is the same way, especially on the road.
I can't pick the road favorite here because we really just don't know much about them, but I do think Edwards plays a slow, meticulous, ball-control offense, in a close, low-scoring game.
Fresno State at No. 13 UCLA (OVER 63.5): Saturday, 10:45 ET, Pac-12 Network
Give it up to the Pac-12, putting one of their most intriguing teams - UCLA - on a network no one gets, at a time most people won't stay up to watch. It doesn't get much more Pac-12y than that, does it?
Either way, I'm not totally getting full on "Pac-12 After Dark" vibes here for one reason: While I think it'd be easy for UCLA to have a let down after that LSU win, they had a full week off, and so I expect them to come out fully focused and locked in. I also expect them to have success moving the ball. The Bruins are averaging 41 points in their last two games, and while it's easy to forget (since no one watched Pac-12 football last year), they topped 34 points in five of their seven games last year.
This feels like a team ready to put up 40 on a pretty regular basis this season.
On the flip side, the one thing that UCLA has not done well this season though is stop the pass, where they rank 115th nationally in that category.
Well, you know who likes to throw the ball all over the field? Fresno State, which ranks fifth nationally in pass offense and led the Mountain West in that category last year.
Again, I don't think this officially turns into a Pac-12 After Dark shoot out, but a 45-21 score feels about right for this one, which is why I'm rocking with the OVER.
UCF (-7) at Louisville - Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: I feel like Bart Simpson and need to go write on the chalk board 100 times "I won't bet road favorites, I won't bet road favorites"
Maryland (-7.5) at Illinois - Friday, 9:00 p.m. ET, FS1: As mentioned above, last year I bet against Indiana a bunch and lost every single one of those bets. But in the process, I learned a ton about a ton of middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams, including Maryland. What I learned: The Terps can really sling it. Therefore, the over intrigues me, only because Illinois defense is so bad. But this feels like one of those weird, Friday night games where anything can, and will happen. I'll just watch this one as a fan... and probably regret not taking the over.
Nebraska at No. 3 Oklahoma (-22) - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX: We have a company policy here at Aaron Torres Online, and that is that we never bet on games involving Adrian Martinez. It's written into all our employees' contracts and everything. If we were to bet, we'd kind of lean Nebraska, but again, you know, company policy.
Michigan State at No. 24 Miami (-6.5) - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC: Michigan State has looked really good early, and Miami got destroyed by Alabama and nearly lost to App State last week. Yet the line keeps moving up in Miami. Something smells fishy here. Hmm.
Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson (-29) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC: This feels like the week that the Clemson revenge tour stars in earnest. The Tigers know they need to win, and win convincingly going forward to start to make up the ground they lost by losing to Georgia two weeks ago. Four touchdowns is too steep a price for me, though.
South Carolina at No. 3 Georgia (-31.5) - Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Georgia is my preseason national title pick, and South Carolina is a team I proclaimed "the least talented in the SEC besides Vanderbilt" before the season started. But even I think this line is a little too much, especially with Georgia's uncertainty at quarterback.
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